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How the auto parts API is changing the auto parts market landscape

May 18, 2021
How the auto parts API is changing the auto parts market landscape

I. Introduction

a. How the auto parts API is changing the car parts market landscape

II. Current trends in the auto parts industry

a. Car technology improvements

b. Car part e-commerce

c. Mobile technology

d. Globalisation

III. API and the Car Part Industry

a. Benefits of using an API

b. Who should use an auto parts API

IV. API Integration: The Game Changer

a. The API advantage

b. Information accessible via API

V. How to Use an API for a car parts website

a. Steps on how to use a API

b. The Partly advantage

VI. Conclusion


I. Introduction

Auto parts data is complicated. Vehicle manufacturers configure vehicles differently for different countries and regions, part numbers may change, be replaced and superseded, models can have multiple names, and cross referencing aftermarket parts with original parts can be a nightmare. Accessing parts data is hard in the first place, and often,  even if you do have access to it, there are different formats, different part names, different vehicle names and so on. Once you have the data in a standard format, getting this online into a website, software or marketplace is another challenge altogether and then there is the ongoing maintenance afterwards.

E-commerce is changing the automotive parts industry. Today, people rely greatly on digital influence whenever they purchase anything, including car parts. Many buyers are now going online to purchase the spare parts that they need while reading reviews, watching videos, and doing a thorough search about them on the internet. But more important than anything else, buyers need to have confidence that the part they’re buying is right for their vehicle. 

This is where an auto parts API comes in.

To ensure that buyers can find the right part, car parts sellers must be ready to embrace online technology. As many end-users prefer to buy car parts using their laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices, auto parts sellers should think about how they can take their business online to serve a fast-growing number of online clients. 

Technology is leveling the automotive parts industry, particularly the aftermarket playing field. The automotive parts industry is moving online, which means  buyers can now often purchase directly  from part manufacturers instead of going to retailers. Furthermore, they get access to just about any information over the internet and even connect with niche part sellers who are building shops out of their garages. 

Every business that deals with auto parts online  should be ready for the digital transformation of their business and they need an auto part API to make that happen. An auto parts API is the technology that businesses  use to integrate with their websites and allow them to access accurate and up-to-date fitment data to increase profitability.

Through an API, businesses can provide relevant and accurate auto parts data to their clients through their online stores, software, or marketplace platforms. It allows them to work with huge amounts of data without worrying about resource overload, repeated manual updates and constant data verification. Customers also reap the benefits, as they always get complete and accurate information directly, without having to spend time researching fitment externally.

Auto Parts API

II. Current trends in the auto parts industry

The automotive industry is fast adopting the latest technologies at a very large scale. Technologies like artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, the Internet of Things, and blockchain are just a few of what can be expected in the years to come. 

The auto parts industry is continuing to rise in sales and volume. This is because consumers are getting more comfortable purchasing different kinds of car parts and accessories over the internet, especially for cars produced in recent years. Here’s a closer look at the trends we see now and what we can expect soon.

A. Car technology improvements

Over the years, car manufacturers have developed different solutions to the most common problems faced by car owners. Cars no longer merely drive and stop. These days, manufacturers equip vehicles with artificial intelligence and machine learning, allowing for the birth of predictive automobile technology. 

Such technology doesn’t point to voice command and self-driving features alone. Vehicle AI also lets car users know which parts are starting to wear out and what systems require a maintenance check. 

In the same way, the latest cars introduce many other added features, such as backing cameras, automatic high-beam controls, GPS, V2V, versatile cruise control, automatic liftgates, and biometric seats, among others. The addition of these new technologies means new parts are being designed and manufactured by the day. 

As the number of car parts has grown and the specificity of parts in a car has increased significantly, it means that fitment is even more difficult for people to figure out. It is more important than ever to keep on top of the data for the increasing number of vehicle configurations that are being produced every year.

B. Car part e-commerce

Auto parts APIs simplify the spare parts buying experience. While it’s not difficult to list a part on a website just the same as any other product, auto parts buyers will not make a purchase unless they feel confident that the part is the right fit for their vehicle.  

Before auto parts ecommerce, people  purchasing parts online would have to read through PDF catalogs to see if the seller carries the part that they need. Then, they would have to contact the store to express their intent to purchase. Once the seller receives the request, they’ll check through their inventory and confirm if the part is available. Only then will the actual purchase take place. 

An auto parts API streamlines this process. 

Because an API is the backbone powering auto parts e-commerce, it effectively eliminates the long, inconvenient and cumbersome process of buying parts online. After the introduction of a standard API for the car parts industry, there is no need for automotive parts retailers, manufacturers or distributors to upload a huge car parts catalogue into their website and then update it manually on a regular basis. There’s also no need for the customers to contact the store prior to the purchase to request the part. 

Auto parts APIs automate the entire process. Businesses only need to integrate API data into their website and even the delivery of parts may get automated. There’s definitely no need to access and manage big data internally and no need to build a database infrastructure on your own. 

C. Mobile technology

Mobile technology is the future of the auto part industry. Car part technology companies are creating apps for smartphones to make it easier for auto parts sellers to list their parts online and for customers to purchase the spare part they need and assure them that it will fit.

Furthermore, purchases made through a mobile app are much easier to process. The ease of product selection, delivery, payment and even returns is assured. This is the level of practicality that buyers have been looking for all along. 

In a few cases, the make, model and year of the vehicle is sufficient to determine the fitment of a part. But this is not always the case. Oftentimes, a part is specific to a certain engine version or a trim configuration. For these instances, customers may need more information to get the right part that they need. Furthermore, vehicle manufacturers may have created different variations of the model within the same year, and this can make shopping for similar parts confusing. 

Even so, the advances in mobile technology continue to keep up with the needs of the car part industry. These nuances were taken into consideration and solutions were provided. As a result, cross-referencing and data mapping were created, allowing users access to alternative and replacement parts for their vehicles. 

D. Globalisation

Car manufacturers make cars differently depending on the market. As such, vehicles are often manufactured to meet the specific requirements and regulations of a country, and they will have different parts, sometimes even different names.

On top of this, vehicles and their parts are being imported and exported more than ever. In many countries around the world the vehicles may consist of mostly imported vehicles. This means that the parts to repair a certain vehicle often need to come from overseas.

Globalisation has given car owners access to most, if not all, car parts manufactured from different parts of the world. Right now, it is possible to order spare parts from Japan and have them shipped to the US and vice versa. Because of globalization, automotive product exports grew into a trillion-dollar industry over the past few years. 

As the overarching automotive industry continues to grow , the aftermarket part industry has consistently expanded. The US led car manufacturing in the 1970s but Japan overtook them in the 80s. Since 2009, China has been the largest manufacturer of cars in the world. 

In 2010, the total number of cars on the road all over the world was estimated to be  more than 1 billion. The countries with the highest car ownership growth rates are Thailand, China, Indonesia, Brazil and India. These are the same places where aftermarket car parts are high in demand. Globalisation and the rapid digitisation of the auto parts industry allow car owners from these countries to get the spare parts that they need with just a few clicks or taps. 

E. Direct to customer sales

As the online auto parts retail market continues to grow each year, most of the sales happen on mobile phones. The Auto Care Association forecasted that aftermarket car part sales will grow from $281 billion last year to $314 billion by the end of this year, based on the IHS Markitwith analysis.  

These days, more and more  buyers go directly to manufacturers’ websites to research spare parts. As such, many leading manufacturers  have taken the cue and shifted  focus from business-to-business transactions to direct-to-customer sales. The change has been  significantly influenced by the digital influence and the ease for car owners to do their own research online prior to making a purchase. 

Access to the internet gives regular car owners the confidence to repair or restore cars on their own which has caused the DIY market to grow significantly. Today’s research-obsessed car owners simply go online to check if a part will fit before making the purchase. This often means heading to the manufacturer’s website and a few other sources to get the detailed information that they need. 

This makes an API integration a necessity for auto part manufacturers. An auto parts API allows manufacturers to easily implement and manage their catalogue with fitment data on any e-commerce website and save the consumer a lot of time in their research. Instead of checking out different websites for fitment info, an API integration provides access to up-to-date parts and fitment information right where the customers are.


III. API and the car parts industry   

API integrations allow any business needing to manage auto parts vehicle fitment or compatibility to automate tasks by integrating their websites and databases with available industry applications. APIs ensure the smooth and continuous flow of information between different applications. It also allows users to benefit from several cloud-based apps while supporting product innovation.

Through API integrations, businesses can easily, efficiently and quickly add innovations into their business without investing a lot of time or money. Using APIs for your online car part business will benefit you in more ways than one.

A. Benefits of using APIs

For online car part sellers, APIs facilitate the creation of solutions that offer a much better experience to customers without significantly increasing overhead costs. APIs may also be used to streamline certain business operations. 

Many online car part dealers are looking for a tool that will enable them to sell spare parts more efficiently online. They need a tool that will help them manage their inventories, provide fitment data and improve their e-commerce services. These are exactly what an auto part API integration can do. Below are the most common benefits of API integration explained in more detail. 

1. Ease of use

APIs seamlessly integrate different platforms, systems and databases that the car part industry uses, making it easier to share and compare automotive parts. For example, customers looking for a spark plug may simply input their vehicle information such as its model, make, and year of manufacture to get a list of all the parts that match.

To build a successful online store, you need access to vehicle and part data. Auto parts API gives you easy access to this data. Without it, you’ll have to use trusted auto parts or vehicle catalogues instead, but you would have to search and research manually, standardise the data and then build your own backend structure. 

While using catalogues may work for smaller auto parts retailers offering a limited number of spare parts, it won’t work for larger businesses with a huge inventory of parts - particularly those that have a lot of vehicle fitments. Internally managed catalogues are not for sellers that don’t have the time to maintain the database. Take note that auto parts databases require regular updating to ensure that they’re accurate and complete as new vehicles and parts are constantly entering the market.

Auto parts API eliminates the need to manually update and manage the database. It allows sellers to directly access the data that their customers need to provide them with accurate fitment information, which is what they need to buy spare parts from your shop with confidence. 

2. Speed of integration

An auto parts API allows the integration of different software and makes such software work according to the needs of your business. A good example is PartsPal, which is easy to set up  and very reasonably priced. It ensures low-cost operation for your business as it scales with your business. This way, your online shop can produce better results for your customers without increased development or operating costs. Integrating with an API like this is exponentially faster and simpler than building the database infrastructure yourself. 

Some car part sellers, on the other hand, have access to a particular vehicle and parts data. However, the type of data that they’re getting is unstructured and can't be used online. Unstructured data requires another layer of processing to be of use, which is usually more complicated than simply integrating an industry-standard auto parts API.

An auto parts API will automatically feed data into your website, shop or application. It requires little to no management, which makes it ideal for car parts online marketplaces, parts distributors, parts manufacturers and software applications working with thousands of products in their inventories. 

3. Accurate and complete data

Task automation is one of the biggest benefits of using an auto parts API. Because of it, your customers can easily search your website to look for the parts that they need and without constantly reaching out to customer support. They can easily search compatible OEM, aftermarket, and alternative parts on your site without needing to do their own research before making the purchase.

While there may be different places to get auto parts APIs, it is important for car part sellers to choose the one that can provide them with complete and accurate data. Realise that there are several types of car database API and catalogues available for different regions around the world. Consolidating this data may be tricky, especially if you’re looking to serve the global market. 

The best API to use is one that connects to well-maintained, updated and curated car parts data. This will ensure that your customers will always get the right information and make purchases with confidence from your store. 

Auto parts API brings forth automation and efficiency to all the entities that use it. Many players in the automotive industry are leveraging the use of APIs to provide optimum services to their respective clients. By using auto parts API, many businesses have evolved to become reliable sources of information in the automotive industry. 

Car Parts API

B. Who should use an auto parts API

API integration allows businesses operating within the auto parts industry to access thousands of car parts and vehicle fitment and application information. This provides unparalleled convenience to people who are looking for trusted sources of information. The groups that will benefit greatly from using car parts APIs are:

1. Distributors and Dealers

Distributors use the API to access global auto parts data and use such data on their website to sell to customers. Through API, car parts distributors and dealers can sell thousands of spare parts online. Selling more parts can increase the company’s profits while saving them time, money and resources. APIs also improve order accuracy and provide customers with a better buying experience.

2. Manufacturers

Manufacturers use the API to manage their own auto parts catalog and share this with their distribution network. They can also use the API to allow them to sell directly to the consumer. On the other hand, manufacturers that are selling only through their distribution supply chain are likely to attract more players that are willing to do business with them because sharing their catalog is so easy. 

3. Software application

Many software applications that manage auto parts inventory, such as warehouse management software and sales channel management software need to access parts and vehicle data easily in a structured manner. Through an API, they can sync the data obtained with other e-commerce channels such as marketplaces.

4. Online marketplaces

Online marketplaces that sell auto parts need to use the API because it provides a backbone for auto parts category data, interchange data and fitment data. Implementing the API infrastructure easily allows their buyers to find the correct part. Essentially, they need structured parts and vehicle data infrastructure, which are easily provided by API integration. 


IV. Auto parts API integration: The game changer  

The roles of APIs are crucial to the digital transformation of an auto parts business. Integrating it into your shop is what enables you to do business online. That reason alone makes investing in auto parts API worth the effort.

APIs offer new and better technologies for the car part industry by the day. The Partly API is one of the best choices out there, as it provides information about car part fitment compatibility, part interchange data, part categorization, part weights and dimensions for shipping data and more. 

The biggest game changer about API integration is the fact that an auto parts API makes it possible to easily list and manage auto parts online. Before the Partly database existed, it was simply too much work and too expensive to build the infrastructure on your own. Now, businesses don't need to build this infrastructure by themselves because Partly already built it and can share it through the API.

A. The auto parts API advantage

It is very difficult to manage large inventories of car parts. Even seasoned car part distributors don’t necessarily know every spare part released in the market let alone its fitment compatibility. This problem is solved by an API integration, along with a lot of other challenges. 

There are countless advantages to using car APIs to access vehicle and part data, not just for automotive parts shops and websites, but for any type of e-commerce shop in general. Its biggest advantages include:

1. Increased profitability

As more car owners begin servicing their own cars, they need fast and easy access to spare parts data. Since many car owners prefer doing their own research, they prefer car parts shops with API integrations because it provides them with a convenient source of information. 

For the business owner, providing customers with quick access to accurate information means more people using their site. That further translates to a higher possibility of making a sale. The key reason why businesses enjoy increased profitability is because they can sell more parts. This happens because buyers are confident that the part they bought is right for their car. This also leads to a lower return rate because buyers will buy the correct part the first time.

The use of car part APIs can drastically increase customer retention. Customers that get a positive experience from your car parts shop are likely to come back and make another purchase. A positive experience means easily filtering for their vehicle from the search results, getting complete and detailed information and receiving the right part every time.  

Upselling has also become easier with a car part API in place. Simple customization of the car data API makes it possible for auto part sellers to suggest complementary parts or maybe offer some package deals.  

Overall, car part APIs help greatly in acquiring more customers for your business. As more clients get satisfied with the results that they get from your online parts store, they are likely to refer more people to buy from your website. That alone could offset the price of the initial API integration. 

2. Better quality of service

As it becomes easier for customers to access the car part information that they need, they become more inclined to buy from the source website. This is how APIs make your business a one-stop-shop for clients looking for spare parts.

Because APIs make everything accessible, there’s no need for customers to switch to different websites to get the information that they need. APIs will do that for you, from accessing parts information, vehicle fitment, attributes and variances to data mapping to the Vehicle Configuration Database or any similar database used within the region. 

Working with various catalogues, databases and vehicle information data is a complicated feat. Dealing with huge and complex spare parts information is something that a car owner won’t learn or understand overnight. Through a car part API, the monumental task of consolidating data becomes possible and a lot simpler. This greatly benefits not just the car part seller but also the customer.

3. Business automation

The use of auto parts API opens a lot of opportunities for businesses utilising auto parts data. For starters, it makes fitment, cross-referencing, and real-time inventory checks possible, all without the need for human intervention. The whole process gets automated, including the process of updating stocks, adding payment options and updating price lists.

Both your employees and customers benefit from automation. Customers don’t need to constantly download price lists while your employees don’t have to manually manage the databases. Automation makes searching for parts quicker, allowing customers to order what they need with just a few clicks. It also eliminates human errors, both on the part of customers and employees. 

Using auto parts API also means having a lower return rate for your store. Without accurate and integrated fitment data, people tend to buy parts that are incorrect for their car. But if you present customers with the right data, then they will most likely get the correct part and become satisfied with the transaction. 

To further save on costs, integrate a parts API that allows you to pay only for the data that you need, like the Partly API. Unlike most other APIs where you need to pay for the entire package, the Partly API provides a usage-based  solution for your business. 

4. Fast comparison

Cross-referencing is perhaps one of the biggest advantages of using auto parts API. Cross references give integrators the power to provide their customers with a wide range of options. Such as showing them OEM, aftermarket and alternative parts offered at varying price points.

Parts APIs are designed to allow car part buyers to compare compatible spare parts from different car brands, models and trims. Shopping for car parts has long evolved, with rigid matching fast becoming a thing of the past. Customers are now presented with alternative parts and can decide to buy them with a lot more confidence and ease. 

With a car part comparison tool, customers will find it easier to purchase the part that they need from the manufacturer that they like or at the price that they prefer. APIs also eliminate the confusion between OEM parts and aftermarket parts that offer the same functionality. 

Partly PartsPal API

B. Information accessible via auto parts API

The auto parts API contains large data that include important vehicle information to make searching for and purchasing spare parts faster, easier and more efficient. Being both a car API and a parts API in one is useful in different areas of the world to access data pertinent to vehicles being bought or serviced. 

The data that an API provides may be used in different ways, depending on the application built into your website or the e-commerce platform you use. The type of data commonly included in APIs are the following:

1. Vehicle details

Auto parts API allows access to all the pertinent details of the vehicle, including such as vehicle type, sub-model, engine size, fuel type, body code among others. The specifications of the car can be among the important information obtained, more particularly the car’s make, model, year, trim, style, engine, transmission, color and configuration.

 Another good thing about using APIs is that it can understand VINs. The Vehicle Information Number is a sequence of 17 numbers that contain important information about the car such as the country where it is manufactured and who the manufacturer is. It also shows the car’s make and model. 

2. Vehicle part details

Car parts can be broken down into categories. At a high level, these include the car body and panel parts, low voltage and auxiliary electrical system and electronics, interior, powertrain and chassis and so on, but API data will provide much more detailed categories down to the specific nuts and bolts. Aside from all these, the data that a parts API pulls also includes the manufacturer's name and part number, along with similar parts and alternate parts information.

Did you know that a single car may have up to 30,000 parts? Just imagine the amount of data that businesses dealing in car parts have to manage for just one Make and Model combination of a car. Right now, there are thousands of different car Makes and Models across manufacturers. Think of the magnitude of data that needs to be manually processed if APIs aren’t used.

While car owners are likely to have basic knowledge of what car part that they need, they may still get overwhelmed with the number of choices presented to them. Until proper fitment infrastructure either by building yourself or through a car part APIs is introduced, it is practically impossible to be 100% sure that the part the buyer purchases will actually fit their car.   

3. Vehicle part fitment

Depending on the country, there are a number of vehicle fitment standards that can be used. For example, the ACES and PIES standard is commonly used to transfer files in the North American market. UVDB and GAPC are also standards that are used in certain markets globally.

If finding a particular car part is daunting enough, making sure that it fits is difficult to a new level. Thanks to API, car owners can eliminate the guesswork. APIs contain vehicle fitment data that leads customers only to the parts that are right for their car. What’s more, they can be provided with interchange and cross-reference information for both OEM and aftermarket parts. 

Through cross-referencing and data mapping, an API can provide customers with car part suggestions from the aftermarket car part manufacturers, as well as OEM parts of other car Makes, Models and vehicle configurations that are known to fit. 

Vehicle Parts API

V. How to use an API for a car parts website

The use of an API eliminates the need for constant downloading and updating of car part data and other information into a car parts website. API integrations source all parts data available from car manufacturers and distributors and make them accessible from one place. APIs also allow for seamless third-party integration for added functionality and efficiency.

There are different APIs available today and the manner to use each of them may differ significantly. But what’s most important for any business needing to access or manage a parts catalog with vehicle fitment is to choose an API that has a high level of coverage, is accurate and low-cost. 

A. Steps on how to use API

Car parts sellers that want to increase their product range offerings will benefit greatly from API integration. Connecting through API allows sellers to deliver a huge assortment of car parts along with accurate delivery and price info. 

To implement a car parts API integration into your e-commerce store, software application or marketplace, here are the most common steps followed. However, consulting with a professional will most likely produce the best possible results. 

1. Learn about vehicle data and parts data structure

There are different databases and catalogues used to store all the car part information utilised by the automotive industry. It’s important to understand the vehicle and parts data structure that the API is using before integrating it into your system.

Also, you may want to determine what database you need to access to enhance or simplify your system. Working with an accurate and well-maintained set of data is the key. Take note that car part data may be region-specific, which can further complicate integration if not handled correctly.

2. Access the API to get hold of the data you need

Once you determine the data that you need, integrating API access is the next step. API integration serves as the tunnel from which data is transferred from the source to your system and other third-party applications.

APIs work with structured data, which means that the data you’ll get can be used with your existing software. Auto parts API may be integrated into your online shop that is hosted independently or into today’s top e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, eBay and Amazon. 

3. Build your integration

Every integration has different requirements, configurations and branding. Here is where the customisation takes place. Once you have defined the structure of the data and can access it through API, your integration is ready for setup.

With auto parts API integration, it becomes easier to send and receive data to third parties such as a distribution network, marketplace or sales channel integrator. This is how businesses get to reach out to more clients and serve them better. Through software and marketplace integrations, car part sellers will find it easier to promote their brand, services and unique offerings to their target market. 

B. PartsPal: The integration you need if you don’t know how to use an API

Partly’s parts management system, PartsPal, is one of the pioneering solutions in auto parts e-commerce software. The software utilises the Partly API and allows everyday users to access auto parts data, manage their own parts catalog and sync their parts to their own website. 

Integrating it into your online shop allows you to sell OEM and aftermarket parts using accurate and detailed product and fitment data. It also gives your customers a world-class buying experience, regardless if you have your own website or maintain an eBay or Shopify store.

PartsPal’s main features include vehicle selection, parts compatibility checker and parts information table. The vehicle selector feature provides OE level fitment data and aftermarket cross-reference. The Parts compatibility checker assures customers that the part that they’re buying will fit. Lastly, the parts information table shows the product’s weight, dimensions and fitment information. PartsPal has the:

1. Widest coverage

PartsPal accesses the Global Auto Parts Catalogue to provide your business with accurate data at all times. Every search presents customers with part descriptions and vehicle compatibility information, thus giving them the confidence to purchase whatever part comes up in the search.

2. Highest accuracy level

PartsPal offers seamless implementation and management, which means businesses can easily onboard or update a large inventory of car parts. A team of experts is also available to help you if you need assistance in setting up your website.

3. Lowest cost ratio

PartsPal is offered at a low-cost price point because you only pay for the data you query. For all other similar solutions available, you must pay for the entire catalogue. This is how PartsPal helps you get ahead of your competition.

4. Most scalable features

Every store developer or engineer working for car part shops should explore the possibility of integrating PartsPal into their shops not just to stand out but also to open up huge opportunities for growth in the online API car parts market. 

PartsPal automates and makes each process simple, from adding spare parts with complete product descriptions to helping clients make the right choice and delivering the part to their doors in a timely manner. PartsPal shortens the sale process, which increases your bottom line. 

With PartsPal, you get fast and easy access to all the vehicle and parts data that you need. The data you get is structured data, which means it may be used for various applications online. Unlike most competitors, PartsPal is easy to integrate and is priced reasonably. 

VI. Conclusion     

The automotive parts industry is one of the many industries that will benefit greatly from APIs. The digitisation of the auto parts industry is happening rapidly and APIs are the key resource to allow this to happen. 

Businesses in the automotive parts industry that are not yet utilising the power of APIs should seriously consider doing so now, as the field is getting more competitive by the day. With the automotive parts market moving fast, businesses that fail to keep up will be left behind.

On the other hand, businesses that have already integrated part and vehicle APIs must continue to seek new ways on how to further improve their services and reduce operating costs. While the industry standards may not change anytime soon, the way to access information is constantly improving. Always be on the lookout for opportunities that will add more value to your business.

As the auto part industry comes online, APIs are changing the automotive parts market landscape. APIs are the only way to do auto parts e-commerce efficiently and effectively. API integration is the best way to provide data structure to help businesses access and manage parts data as well as display this data to customers. 

Auto parts API allows online car parts sellers to easily adapt to the current trends while increasing the profits of their businesses. Integrating API means getting hold of accurate and up-to-date information quickly, easily and securely, which is exactly what your business needs to succeed.